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#1 2014-06-15 13:48:03

iMic
Administrator
From: Adelaide, Australia
Registered: 2014-05-12
Posts: 891
Website

ThinkClassic v2 Upgrade (Coming Soon)

Hi Everyone,


I'm pleased to announce that ThinkClassic will soon be receiving a number of improvements to make the site nicer to use. When we launched ThinkClassic last month, we tested as much as we possibly could to make sure the launch went smoothly and so our users would enjoy coming here. However since then we've identified a number of areas that need improvement, largely in part thanks to all of your feedback and support. I'd like to express my gratitude to everyone here for using the forums, finding problems and making suggestions. We are listening and taking it all on board.

This brings me to today's announcement.


ThinkClassic currently uses an in-house created design that we call Workspace. We've received some feedback about the design and made some small changes here and there to improve the design. It's been well received both by members here and from others visiting the site from elsewhere. We wanted to make it even better though.

For several weeks, we've been working on an improved version of the ThinkClassic Community Software. It takes our existing look and feel and builds onto it, introducing a number of improvements in appearance, performance, functionality and in the foundation of the code itself. It aims to make the forums load faster, smoother and more efficiently on our current server hardware, all while adding some new functionality that makes it easier to post and share information on ThinkClassic.

Today, we've decided to give everyone a sneak preview of what we have in the pipeline.


New Post Editor

After testing numerous solutions to make it easier for users to post and edit their content on ThinkClassic, we decided that WysiBB would be our new editor of choice moving forward. This editor is written in Javascript around the jQuery framework, and it brings some interesting new features with it. We now have the full range of common BBCode buttons present and functioning in the toolbar, including a pre-defined colour palette for text. For operations that require you to enter text, such as providing a URL or a Video link, a new modal dialog appears over the page. No more Javascript popups that lock up your browser and prevent you from switching tabs.

This code is a little more resource intensive, but we've made some improvements to make it more efficient. Unlike our old solution, where the post editor code is loaded on each page and checks for the presence of a suitable text field to attach a toolbar to, this new editor is only loaded on pages that are known to contain a post editing field. We've been able to reduce the amount of data required with each page load, making the forums faster and more responsive on both new and older hardware alike.

Best of all, on those older machines that don't support the more modern variants of Javascript, the editor won't load but you will still be able to use the standard button-less text editor to write and submit your post.

m4jztuT.png

yHgvAS5.png


Improved Search Engine & Social Media Support

With this next release, we're bringing dynamically generated meta information to ThinkClassic. In normal browsing this isn't something you would notice, but when viewing information on ThinkClassic from external sources, it offers many benefits. For example, we have many users here that contribute to the Apple Macintosh Enthusiasts group on Facebook. At the moment, when posting a link to a ThinkClassic thread, Facebook retrieves the basic description from our site and links back to thinkclassic.org. If you want to link to a specific thread, you have to post the link itself in the contents of your comment or post.

We've improved our Open Graph support to take full advantage of Facebook's automatically generated previews. Now, whenever Facebook attempts to retrieve information about a thread from our server to automatically generate its previews, ThinkClassic will automatically generate Open Graph information providing the thread title, the direct link to that thread and a brief description of what the thread is about. Take for example our Community Bug Tracker thread:

2rzysle.jpg

It's even better though. Perhaps you would like to link to a specific post instead of an entire thread. ThinkClassic will see that you're attempting to link to a specific post on Facebook and provide a brief description of only that one post instead of the entire thread.

The Meta components of this new release take the same dynamically generated information and provide it to search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing, DuckDuckGo and others when they index our site. As a result, searches for content on ThinkClassic will return more relevant results with more accurate descriptions. It also dynamically generates noindex tags for certain links coming into ThinkClassic to prevent duplicate entries from appearing in search engines.

Best of all, it was written completely in-house by ThinkClassic's administrators and it makes use of documented standard APIs in our forum software. I can't wait for everyone to see it in action.


Visual Changes

ThinkClassic has a design that's been received extremely well both inside and outside of the community. It's clean, pleasant to look at and memorable. We're extremely pleased with it, but we've decided to make some improvements to it. We're looking into areas where colours need to be tweaked, where elements need some alignment and any other small tweaks that will make the design more pleasant to look at and easier to use. We're also looking into the way elements inside posts are displayed, such as any text wrapped in header, quote and code tags to see how their appearance could be further improved upon.


Page Titles

A simple but noticeable improvement. Take a look at the title bar of your browser while viewing this topic. ThinkClassic currently uses slashes to indicate breaks in the title. While this is effective, we think dashes look cleaner and achieve exactly the same thing, so we're making this change with the next revision.


Code Optimisations

When creating all of our custom components for ThinkClassic, we took a great deal of care to make sure it would load quickly, run smoothly and remain trouble-free for our users. However we're always looking for ways to improve on what we have, and so this next release will see a reduction in redundant code across the board. This is still a work in progress, but already we've been able to remove redundant PHP, HTML and CSS to make the site leaner. This will improve response times on our server, reduce the amount of data transferred with each page load and reduce the amount of resources required to render each page in your browser. It isn't something that users will be able to look at and see, but some of our users of older machines will enjoy this improvement.

We're also moving a lot of the tweaks and modifications out of the forum engine and into our own custom modules. This will make it easier for us to maintain the code, fix problems and install the very latest security updates as they become available to ensure that ThinkClassic remains in working order.

The CSS is undoubtedly the most difficult aspect of these optimisations. ThinkClassic currently has more than 2200 lines of CSS that we may need to sift through manually, so this could take some time.



We hope to have this release available for use soon. Many of these improvements are already coded and are actively being tested with promising results on our test machines. There's still some changes and possibly some additions in the pipeline as well. We'll keep working on it and aim to provide the community with updates regarding its progress.


Regards,

Michael (iMic)


Resident Professor of Alternative Methodology
Faculty of Macintosh Restorations & Modifications - "It works, let's fix it!"

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#2 2014-06-16 15:26:35

ScutBoy
Member
Registered: 2014-05-25
Posts: 159

Re: ThinkClassic v2 Upgrade (Coming Soon)

Nice - iterate and evolve.

It's the Apple way smile

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#3 2014-06-16 15:32:33

uniserver
Member
From: Sf, Mi
Registered: 2014-05-15
Posts: 956
Website

Re: ThinkClassic v2 Upgrade (Coming Soon)

thanks!


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#4 2014-06-16 17:02:01

jt
Member
From: Bermuda Triangle, NC USA
Registered: 2014-05-21
Posts: 1,408

Re: ThinkClassic v2 Upgrade (Coming Soon)

Thanks, haven't seen it yet though. JavaTime!  wink

Last edited by jt (2014-06-16 17:07:24)

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#5 2014-06-16 17:10:09

iMic
Administrator
From: Adelaide, Australia
Registered: 2014-05-12
Posts: 891
Website

Re: ThinkClassic v2 Upgrade (Coming Soon)

The CSS improvements are proving to be rather challenging. I'll continue working on it when I find a few moments here and there, which is mostly in between classes.

We need to continue working on all aspects of this site to help it grow, including not only our community software but also in getting the word out there to as many people as we can. We're still relatively unknown at this point which means activity around here is still in that slow phase, but I like to think we'll get there soon.


Resident Professor of Alternative Methodology
Faculty of Macintosh Restorations & Modifications - "It works, let's fix it!"

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#6 2014-06-16 17:40:06

jt
Member
From: Bermuda Triangle, NC USA
Registered: 2014-05-21
Posts: 1,408

Re: ThinkClassic v2 Upgrade (Coming Soon)

It's difficult to find us on Google, I think I had better luck with the duck.

What does "pending" mean, I can't peek in while I'm at work. I can tunnel in to 68kMLA, but can't see any site "pending."

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#7 2014-06-20 02:46:16

iMic
Administrator
From: Adelaide, Australia
Registered: 2014-05-12
Posts: 891
Website

Re: ThinkClassic v2 Upgrade (Coming Soon)

jt wrote:

It's difficult to find us on Google, I think I had better luck with the duck.

What does "pending" mean, I can't peek in while I'm at work. I can tunnel in to 68kMLA, but can't see any site "pending."


Somewhat curious about this. I haven't seen any mention of "Pending" in our code or in general use from my end of things.

Pleased to report that a lot of the improvements we've been working on have entered a feature-freeze state. The majority of the small bugs and usability issues have been worked out as well.

Work has commenced on the next revision of the design as well. Instead of attempting to clean up our existing code, we've decided to rewrite the stylesheets entirely from scratch. The test versions are already looking fairly similar to our current design, albeit about 300 lines of code shorter and without the messy hacks to make it render correctly.

It will be difficult to achieve pixel-perfect rendering accuracy with older browsers from a bygone era like Netscape or IE, but I will be testing the site against Classilla and TenFourFox. I don't expect that we'll need to make many changes to achieve compatibility with those browsers.


Resident Professor of Alternative Methodology
Faculty of Macintosh Restorations & Modifications - "It works, let's fix it!"

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#8 2014-07-10 15:19:00

iMic
Administrator
From: Adelaide, Australia
Registered: 2014-05-12
Posts: 891
Website

Re: ThinkClassic v2 Upgrade (Coming Soon)

I've been testing the site against Classilla 2.3.1 over the last few hours. The newest version of the site does load, but it doesn't look all that attractive.

dwfa5y.png

This is because FluxBB's styles make heavy use of the inline-block display property, which doesn't seem to be playing nice with Classilla. Changing it to inline or block respectively does seem to solve the problem, but I'm not prepared to make those changes at this stage. I'll continue looking into solutions to this problem, but it's something I'll leave for last.

Some of the issues with hideously oversized graphics is due to us using the background-size property, mainly to dynamically scale elements and allow them to look sharper on Retina Displays. This will likely be changing in the next revision anyway, so fixing that in older browsers hopefully shouldn't be a problem.

The next round of testing will be with TenFourFox, which I suspect will run much nicer.


Resident Professor of Alternative Methodology
Faculty of Macintosh Restorations & Modifications - "It works, let's fix it!"

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#9 2014-07-10 23:22:32

ClassicHasClass
Member
From: Electron Alley
Registered: 2014-05-26
Posts: 1,106
Website

Re: ThinkClassic v2 Upgrade (Coming Soon)

If TenFourFox can't render it, I'll be very surprised, because it should be no different than Firefox ESR (use the 31 beta if possible since that will take over starting 22 July).

Unfortunately Classilla has a lot of problems with inline blocks. The layout hacks I made for overflow aren't enough to get that to work. I'm not sure I'll be able to fix that with the current code base (and I still need to piece it back together since it was all chopped up for a security renovation I hadn't gotten finished).

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#10 2014-07-11 19:15:30

cc333
Member
From: North S.F. Bay Area, CA
Registered: 2014-05-23
Posts: 575

Re: ThinkClassic v2 Upgrade (Coming Soon)

ClassicHasClass: Perhaps you should enlist someone who can help out with Classilla while you devote your energies to TenFourFox?

I'd offer, but I know almost nothing about programming (unless you can make it super easy so that I can fix it all up by issuing a few simple commands).

That being said, I'm sure you'll figure it out.

c


Main Macs: Early '09 Mac Pro, Mid '12 MacBook Pro 13"
Secondary Macs: Early '08 Mac Pro, Mid '12 MacBook Pro 15"
Playthings: Mac SE/30, 3.0 GHz Mavericks-based HackServe, Many others....
Desired: Lisa, Kanga PowerBook G3, Apple IIc, Apple II, Spare parts, etc.

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#11 2014-07-12 02:39:42

ClassicHasClass
Member
From: Electron Alley
Registered: 2014-05-26
Posts: 1,106
Website

Re: ThinkClassic v2 Upgrade (Coming Soon)

I've kind of asked for that for years. hmm

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#12 2014-07-25 00:57:02

iMic
Administrator
From: Adelaide, Australia
Registered: 2014-05-12
Posts: 891
Website

Re: ThinkClassic v2 Upgrade (Coming Soon)

This revision is now available as a Public Beta. Discussions for this revision can be continued here.


Resident Professor of Alternative Methodology
Faculty of Macintosh Restorations & Modifications - "It works, let's fix it!"

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ThinkClassic specialises in the maintenance, repair, restoration and modification of Vintage Apple and Macintosh computers. Ask questions and find answers about classic Apple desktops, laptops, accessories and peripherals.